6 min read

People Find The Saddest Eagle Tied To Pole

The look on his face after realizing he could fly again is priceless 👏

In the forests of Africa, crowned eagles are one of the largest and most powerful species of birds. But this one was heading toward a life of certain neglect.

Captured from the wild and tied up by ropes so that he couldn’t walk or fly, it was only a matter of minutes before he would be sold off to someone as a pet at the garage in Monrovia, Liberia, he had been taken to. He stood hunched over, frightened in the unfamiliar environment as people bustled around him.  

african crowned eagle rescue liberia
Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary

Luckily, an out-of-uniform forestry officer was in the right place at the right time when he noticed two men announce they were selling the bird.

“The officer told the men he wanted to buy it and directed them to where he’d meet them with the money,” Luke Brannon, manager for Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary, told The Dodo. “He rang ahead and organized for officers to arrest them.”

By that time, the eagle had his legs tied together and was wrapped in a canvas bag — evidence that the men had smuggled him. While being arrested, the men claimed they had found the bird on the side of the road and thought he was an owl.

african crowned eagle rescue liberia
A close-up of the eagle once forestry officers took him in | Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary

Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary picked up the eagle that evening and took him back to its rescue center, where caretakers luckily discovered the only injury he had was to one of his eyes.

“Upon health checking when we got back, it was clear it had a floating ulcer on its right eye,” Brannon said. “This would require medicated drops four times daily to heal. [But] with the eagle being extremely strong and feisty, coupled with the stress factor, it was decided once, twice daily maximum. ”

african crowned eagle rescue liberia
The eagle on a perch at the sanctuary | Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary

Unlike many other birds of prey the sanctuary has seized over the years, the eagle’s wing and tail feathers were unclipped — meaning he was still a candidate to return to the wild as soon as his eye healed.

Over the next few days of treatment, it was clear the eagle was feeling better. He was perching and moving around normally, so Brannon and the team moved him to a larger enclosure to double-check his flying skills.

“It could fly well and was feeding well,” Brannon said.

african crowned eagle rescue liberia
The eagle stretching his wings after being moved to the large enclosure | Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary

After 10 days in the sanctuary’s care, the eagle was finally well enough to return to his home — and the sanctuary staffers were very eager to see him take off again. In their experience, it’s not always a guarantee that injured birds will be releasable.

After capturing him and loading him up for the trip, Brannon and the team left early in the morning for the long drive back to the location the eagle was originally taken from.

Once they arrived, the team carried the transport box into the forest and opened the door — and the eagle let out a loud screech.

african crowned eagle liberia rescue
Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary

After facing an uncertain future just days before, the bird didn’t waste any time getting back to business. He spread his giant wings and took flight immediately back to his home.

By all accounts, the sight was breathtaking.

african crowned eagle rescue liberia
The eagle flying back into the forest | Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary

“Taking flight into the forest was something truly special to witness,” Brannon said. “We're thankful to the FDA [Forestry Development Authority], as without their collaboration and quick thinking, this eagle would have either been sold for meat, or as a pet, both of which are illegal.”

To support the care of other animals like this eagle, you can make a donation to Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary.